Tony Tony - 1 month ago 10
HTML Question

Spanning columns in HTML table

I'm trying do to a very simple operation of merging two columns in a table. This seems easy with the colspan, but if I merge different columns without leaving at least one row without any merged columns, the sizing gets completely messed up. Please see the following example at http://www.allthingsdope.com/table.html or take a look at and try the following code:

Good:

<table width="700px">
<tr>
<th width="100px">1: 100px</th>
<td width="300px">2: 300px</td>
<td width="200px">3: 200px</td>
<td width="100px">4: 100px</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<th width="100px">1: 100px</th>
<td colspan=2 width="500px" >2 & 3: 500px</td>
<td width="100px">4: 100px</td>
</tr>

<tr>
<th width="100px">1: 100px</th>
<td width="300px">2: 300px</td>
<td colspan=2 width="300px">3 & 4: 300px</td>
</tr>
</table>


Bad:

<table width="700px">
<tr>
<th width="100px">1: 100px</th>
<td colspan=2 width="500px" >2 & 3: 500px</td>
<td width="100px">4: 100px</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<th width="100px">1: 100px</th>
<td width="300px">2: 300px</td>
<td colspan=2 width="300px">3 & 4: 300px</td>
</tr>
</table>


This seems so simple but I cannot figure it out!

Answer

Don't put the width attribute on the individual cells. This has been deprecated since at least html 4.01 (http://www.w3.org/TR/html401/struct/tables.html#h-11.2.6, if you care that the w3c doesn't approve of your coding). In any case, you run into all sorts of troubles if you try to mix this with colspans.

Instead, add <col> elements to the table, like so:

    <table width="700px">
        <col width="100px"/>
        <col width="300px"/>
        <col width="200px"/>
        <col width="100px"/>
        <tr>
            <th>1: 100px</th>
            <td colspan="2">2 &amp; 3: 500px</td>
            <td>4: 100px</td>
        </tr>
        <tr>
            <th>1: 100px</th>
            <td>2: 300px</td>
            <td colspan="2">3 &amp; 4: 300px</td>
        </tr>
    </table>

The <col> element exists precisely to serve as a placeholder on which to hang attributes that apply to an entire column.

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